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Student Engagement
Student Retention

Defiance College: A Modern, Student-Focused Approach to Campus Engagement

JFischer

Jessica Fischer

Digital Marketing Specialist

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Solutions Used

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Description

When Defiance College administrators started planning their student engagement and success initiative Jacket Journey, they were ready to launch something everyone would love.

But that excitement rapidly became a pain point for students and administrators alike, due to an outdated student engagement platform.

Luckily, they switched to Suitable, where Defiance has surpassed engagement metrics from Jacket Journey's entire first year within just 6 months.

In addition to student engagement, Jacket Journey was created to make Defiance College a leader in career readiness with the motto “We put the hire in higher education”.

About the School

Defiance College is a private college based in Defiance, Ohio. The college educates approximately 600 undergraduate students in over 40 different academic programs. 

70% of defiance students are athletes, with a high percentage of first-generation and Pell-eligible students. Defiance College is an Ohio College of Distinction and a Title III Grant Institution.

 

Challenges before Suitable

Jacket Journey was created to address three key problems in higher education:

  • To resolve the disconnect between what employers think colleges do and what colleges actually do.
  • Help students properly articulate what they have learned in the classroom and in co-curricular activities.
  • To get students to take advantage of career readiness programming.

When Defiance launched Jacket Journey, they had a goal of being a national model for career readiness and student engagement. But that goal quickly got derailed when they launched using another platform to track engagement. That platform didn’t deliver on what it promised, meaning headache after headache for not only administrators but students as well.

In addition to unmet expectations for reporting and tracking, the attendance feature relied on scanning ID cards, and Defiance College’s ID cards didn’t work with their system. The platform had no real analytics tools and wasn’t mobile-friendly or user-friendly.

With no mobile capabilities - students weren’t using the platform at all. No one - administration or students alike - was carrying around their laptops and logging in just to sign in to an event or presentation. 

Defiance administrators scrapped the product midway through the first semester because students weren’t using it. Without a platform in place, Defiance College administrators eventually adopted using homemade spreadsheets and attendance reports from Google video chats to keep track of engagement.

Life with Suitable

Jacket Journey was launched with seven personalized core competencies.

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Dr. Taylor and his faculty chose Suitable for its mobile-first, user-friendly platform and advanced tracking features. Students adapted to the Suitable app much more easily than the previous platform, and the ability to personalize capabilities and features was a game-changer for student engagement.

"Suitable provided a mobile platform for our students. That was the #1 issue. We knew our students weren’t going to log in on their computers to log into events. It needed to be right there on their phones."

Dr. Jeremy Taylor, Dean, Institute for Career Readiness and Lifelong Learning, Interim Dean, McMaster School for Advancing Humanity, Professor of History, Defiance College

Thanks to the flexibility and personalization capabilities of Suitable, Jacket Journey was able to align what students are doing at Defiance College with career readiness. Jacket Journey not only tracks the data and experiences of students while they’re attending the college, but gives them a co-curricular record of experiences and programs to take with them after graduation.

Defiance administrators designed Jacket Points to boost engagement and gamify career readiness. Jacket Journey tracks both required and optional activities, and students earn points for engagement and completion. These points are tracked in the app, and allow students to move up the Leaderboard, win competitions, receive incentives, and earn badges.

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Defiance College starts the Jacket Journey experience from day one. 

They make downloading the Suitable app a component of orientation, increasing student engagement and participation early on in the student journey.

ASK THE ADMINISTRATOR

"So far there’s been nothing I wanted to do that Suitable wasn't able to do."

Dr. Jeremy Taylor, Dean, Institute for Career Readiness and Lifelong Learning, Interim Dean, McMaster School for Advancing Humanity, Professor of History, Defiance College

Take a look at the accomplishments of the Jacket Journey initiative

  • 15% increase in activity on the app
  • 88% engagement amongst first-year students
  • Jacket Journey surpassed last year’s total point accumulation by over 37%
  • Students and administrators alike easily adopted the platform
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Additional Outcomes Achieved

Not only are students benefiting from the Jacket Journey initiative, but administrators are finding they have more time and transparency as they play their roles in student development as well.

Suitable’s user-friendly platform allows the Jacket Journey team to track and analyze student engagement data in real-time.



Not only has engagement skyrocketed, but Defiance College is well on its way to becoming a model of career readiness and changing the narrative on how college is setting students up for success beyond graduation.

Plans for the Future

Defiance College has big goals for the future.

Administrators want to leverage involvement data using Suitable to understand what’s making the biggest impact on the career outcomes of Defiance students. The next stage of these efforts would integrate employers directly into the Jacket Journey experience to expand the impact for students.

The administration is also aiming to support its strategic goals by achieving an 80% student engagement rate by the end of the year.
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In addition, the Jacket Journey team is working towards incorporating student scorecards into advising appointments by further customizing the Experiential Learning Record & Co-Curricular Transcript Suitable offers.

There are future goals to require Jacket Journey as a graduation requirement for all students at Defiance College.